Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Islamic State’s New Car Bomb Campaign In Iraq’s Diyala

Baghdad, Anbar and Salahaddin account for the vast majority of the Islamic State’s car bombings, but Diyala has become a new target of the latest vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) campaign launched by IS in July. Today there is nearly a car bomb a week in that province. Diyala is important because it is not only a victim of the new IS wave, but it is also a base for attacks into Baghdad province as well.

Since the new Islamic State car bomb campaign started, the number of those types of attacks has skyrocketed in Diyala. In June, there were just two VBIEDs in the province, one in Baladrooz, which is in the center, and one in the east by the Iranian border in Mandali. That went up to 6 VBIEDs in July, with one in Baladrooz, one in Khan Bani Saad that is in the west by Baghdad, 2 in Khalis that is in the west by Salahaddin, and 2 in Mandali. That doubled in August with 13 with one Baladrooz, one in Howaider by the provincial capital Baquba by Salahaddin, one in Kanaan in the north east, 2 in Hamrin in the northwest, and 2 in Khalis. All but one of these bombings was a terrorist attack aimed at civilian targets such as markets and restaurants. That accounts for the high casualty rates. The pace of these attacks has also gotten to the level of nearly one per week. In July and August for instance, there was at least one car bombing per three out of every four weeks.

Diyala is both a target and source for car bombs in Iraq. There are two likely bases within the province. One is reportedly in Baladrooz and the other in the Hamrin Mountains. The latter is a notorious insurgent stronghold that has never been cleared even when the United States had forces in Iraq. Between the two VBIEDs could be sent to any part of the governorate. IS also has camps in southern Salahaddin that neighbor Diyala that could be used. Finally, Diyala is a known source of car bombs and explosives into eastern Baghdad, which is a favorite target of the Islamic State. The Shiite neighborhoods in the east of the capital are routinely bombed to incite sectarian tensions.

As the Islamic State continues with its campaign reports of car bombings in Diyala will become more routine. It’s likely that there will be one such attack per week eventually. As in the rest of the country the security forces have not been able to disrupt IS’s networks that deliver explosives, build these bombs, and deliver them. That means that these incidents will not decrease until IS wants them to as the current offensive runs down before the next one begins.

Car Bombs In Diyala Jun-Aug 2015
# Of Car Bombs
Baladrooz 1
Mandali 1
Baladrooz 1
Khan Bani Saad 1
Khalis 2
Mandali 2
Baladrooz 1
Howaider 1
Kanaan 1
Hamrin 2
Khalis 2

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